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Florida Legislature Rejects Weapons Ban Days After Parkland School Shooting

The lawmakers even opened up the voting session with a prayer for the 17 victims.

By Sowmya Krishnamurthy

Following the deadly massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the state's lawmakers have voted to reject gun legislation. As CNN reported, the Florida state House voted down a motion to consider a ban on semiautomatic guns and large capacity magazines on Tuesday. The lawmakers, mostly Republicans, rejected the motion by 36-71.

The vote took place during a session that opened with a prayer for the 17 people killed in Parkland. Students from the massacre were in attendance during the vote and spoke out about the outcome.

"It was just so heartbreaking to see how many (voters') names were up there, especially after it was my school," said Sheryl Acquaroli, a 16-year-old junior from Stoneman Douglas. "It seemed almost heartless how they immediately pushed the button to say no."

She said that these lawmakers are at fault for the next person who is killed by an automatic weapon, like the one that the shooter used at her school. 

"They had a chance to stop it today," she said. "If there is another mass shooting (in Florida) it's going to be their fault." 

"We're all here because we need to strive for change, and the legislation needs to change, because we've fallen victim to lazy legislation for far too long," another student, Kai Koerber, said

As CNN pointed out, in that same legislature meeting, lawmakers dubbed pornography a public health risk.

The student survivors have actively taken to the press and social media with a message of gun reform. 

"We will be the last mass shooting," said student Emma Gonzalez, who has risen to the forefront of the conversation. "Every single person up here today, all these people should be home grieving. But instead we are up here standing together because if all our government and President can do is send thoughts and prayers, then it's time for victims to be the change that we need to see."

The students are rallying today at the state capitol in Florida. Some are speaking in favor for stricter mental health checks for gun ownership or tighter age restrictions to purchase weapons. Others want more aggressive control overall and have harangued the National Rifle Association (NRA) in working to sway politicians. 

Activists are planning a larger National School Walkout on March 14 and the March for Our Lives for March 24.

[Photos: Getty Images]